by Lara Ashley
Kindle Edition, 324 pages
Published September 29th 2012 by Grow Books, Inc.
After finishing their junior year of high school, Rhonda Campbell and her best friend Alicia fly to beautiful Maui, Hawaii to intern at Nitridia Farm. At the airport they meet Jason and Roger, two hot college guys who offer to drive them out to the farm. It looks like they will be spending a romantic summer in paradise.
On the way, they pick up Keoni, a local guy and the five kids reach the secluded farm together. Rhonda is delighted to think she'll be working with all of these exotic plants, but as the sun sets the kids make several terrifying discoveries. And soon they are convinced that it is time to leave. If only it was that easy. Roger’s car won’t start and they realize they will likely be stuck on the farm overnight. Rhonda’s premonitions tell her that things are not going to turn out well.
I remember when it happened to me for the first time. A
colorful tree stood in our living room. My father
always chopped down one of the many scrawny cedars
from off our property in the Sierra Nevada foothills, not
wanting to waste money on one of the nicer Douglas Fir
trees sold at any of the markets in town. Mama and I had
decorated that sparse tree with electric light strings, shiny
ornaments and tinsel.
I awoke that morning not from excitement or noise,
but because it was so quiet—and I knew what that meant.
Brushing aside my curtains, I could see that overnight both
the ground and the tall ponderosa pines had become
shrouded in white. I felt giddy, remembering the sound
snow makes when it crunched underneath my boots and
hoping Mama would take me sledding down our driveway.
The warmth from our wood stove lured me out of my
bed, increasing as I raced down the hallway and into the
living room. I knew my high expectations were about to be
fulfilled as I spied the pile of brightly wrapped packages
which had mysteriously appeared underneath our little tree.
Christmas for a four-year-old is always a big deal. I
squealed in delight as I looked at Mama for permission to
begin, as both my parents settled in on the couch to watch.
With glee, I jumped onto the floor with all those presents. I
was an only child, so there were no siblings to share my
I began to rip off the wrappings, going quickly through
the pile. Underneath the other presents sat the biggest box
of all. I guessed that it might be a snow sled, and I
furiously attacked the colored paper to discover the truth
about its identity. Then, for no apparent reason at all, I
burst into tears.
At first, I didn’t even know why. My reaction had nothing
to do with the present and it happened so fast. There was
simply no reason “why” for this spontaneous outburst of
my emotions. But a feeling of despair rolled over me with
the force of a tsunami.
Of course, Mama did what all mothers do. She dropped
down on the floor and wrapped her arms around my small
shoulders—but I would not be consoled. I wailed on as if
the end of the world had come.
“Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” she kept asking, but I was
too overcome by my emotions to speak. While she held
me, a series of images flashed through my mind. I was
experiencing a child’s nightmare in the light of day. The
more I saw, the more I understood the meaning of
those images. This deepened my agony and caused tears to
rain down upon Mama’s chest.
Could this really be true? Instinctively, I knew that it was.
So I held on tight to Mama, until finally a single question
slipped from my lips: “Mama, why you leaving?” I’ll never
forget the startled expression in my mother’s eyes. It was
somewhere between shock and horror, as if she was
thinking: How can you possibly know that? My question
seemed to have caught her completely off guard, exposing
her wayward desires to
the light of day.
At four, I was completely oblivious to any problems
my parents might have been having. If they fought, it was
behind closed doors. I had never been close to my father,
and he had never confided anything personal to me. Surely
Mama must have known this, and maybe that explains why
she was bewildered by my question.
My father cocked his head at an angle and raised an
eyebrow at Mama, as if questioning her. He seemed to be
realizing for the first time what was in our future.
Apparently, I knew it before he did. Mama did not answer
me. Instead, she immediately placed me back in my room
for an early nap where I cried for hours.
Christmas was over. And so was my life as I had known it.
My mother disappeared less than a week later, offering me
no explanation, not even a last good bye. One day she left
me at the pre-school, but it was my father who picked me
up late from child care. He had never picked me up before,
and I was not surprised when we reached our house and
saw that Mama had cleared out all of her stuff and run off.
Father never mentioned her again.
I can understand a woman who suffers silently with a man
she doesn’t love. I can understand her leaving him
suddenly one day to escape her pain. But why would a
mother leave behind her only child? I didn’t realize until
later that what I experienced that Christmas day was
unusual: not the part about Mama leaving, but the part
about me knowing in advance that it would surely
happen. My mother obviously had problems with my
father, but that day may have solidified her decision to
leave me behind as well. Maybe she saw me as being too
much like him to redeem.
Three years later, my father told me an unusually large
blizzard would hit us in our mountain home. He then began
to make preparations for it as if his knowledge was true.
Three months later, what the media called “The Hundred
Year Storm” blew in four feet of snow in only six hours.
That’s when I first started to realize we both possessed the
same unwanted gift. My father had somehow passed it
along to me.
Win an eBook of Flee by Lara Ashley
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Lara's Lies (author's blog): www.storyblade.com/blog/